The South African economy was built on gold and diamond mining; the sector is an important foreign exchange earner, with gold accounting for more than one-third of exports. South Africa is also a major producer of coal, manganese, and chrome. Mining was the driving force behind a number of laws that were passed so to propel black migrant workers to make their way to the city to look for mining jobs that stripped their dignity and infringed on all right that was given to man.
Due to migrant labour mining bosses have soaked in the gravy train enjoying many perks that workers of colour would never enjoy or never even dream of. In recent years conditions around mines have changed, according to reports. To speak on the mining now, recently, Jersey Farm Advice Office based in Umtata, Eastern Cape with the help of CJN, tackled a topic which most in the Umtata region do not quite understand, Occupational Diseases and compensation, to be specific The Occupational Diseases in Mines and Works Act (OMDWA) which most people who are released early from work duties reports have found they suffer from the following:
- Silicosis, asbestosis (pleural &/or interstitial), coal, another pneumoconiosis.
- Tuberculosis (TB)*.
- Chronic obstructive airways disease (COAD).
- Progressive systemic sclerosis (not skin).
- Manganese poisoning (usually cerebral).
- Cancer of the lung in asbestos-exposed cases and mesothelioma (pleural and/or interstitial).
- Platinum salt sensitivity. According to Thandi Bewana from the advice office they have had a significant amount of people who come through at their offices who clearly are eligible for compensation and don’t know where to start, here is an outline of where to start process of submitting a compensation claim confers the following benefits to workers should the claim be accepted:
- Medical expenses for treatment of TB or for other diseases according to the discretion of the Director of MBOD (employers are otherwise responsible for up to a period of two years).
- Temporary disablement benefits in which case 75% of wages are paid for the period during which the worker is absent from work (maximum of six months) as a result of TB.
- Permanent disablement benefits for two degrees of disability. The compensation payment is based on the percentage permanent disability and the wages of the worker. It takes the form of a lump sum payment only. There are two degrees of disability based on impairment of cardio-respiratory organs:
- First degree: more than 10% but less than 40% impaired function.
- Second degree: more than 40% impaired function.
- Additional compensation if the worker’s condition/disability worsens from first degree to second degree while the worker is still alive.
- Unpaid death benefit which is a lump sum payment to widow/er and dependents if the worker dies and is found to have a compensable disease on autopsy which was not previously compensated. Note: autopsy is a legal requirement upon the death any miner known to have performed risk work.
d) Compensation Fund:
- Compensation payment for Occupational Lung Disease under ODMWA is funded by levies on employers. Levies were previously based on measurements of dust levels in mines and determined by a risk rating by the Risk Committee. This has, however, been superseded by the Mine Health and Safety Act which determines that employers pay a flat rate levy based on the commodity mined.
- The CCOD administers the fund.
- Money in the fund is used for paying benefits.
- Benefit Medical Examinations can be done at the MBOD or any designated Provincial Public Hospital. General Practitioners in areas with inaccessible services also do Medical Benefit Examinations but this is considered to be a temporary arrangement. Following the latest amendment in 2002, former miners are entitled to a free examination every 24 months.
- Procedure for a medical practitioner to follow in the case of submitting a claim for an occupational disease).